Soft touch

A mention for some science stories I had a hand in recently.

Managing chronic pain with light rather than drugs has obvious advantages, if we can see why light might reduce pain in the first place. EMBL Rome have found a way to make nerve cells that normally sit right at the surface of the skin to withdraw further down when illuminated, which could help people for whom every touch is painful.

Also: Super-resolution microscopy has been big news since at least 2014 when it won a Nobel Prize, and a German project has made quantum dots—semiconductor particles so tiny that single electrons are confined inside them—wash over the surface of a sample while super-resolution techniques try and spot them. Use enough quantum dots, and you can interpolate their position down to super-resolution scales.

And: Photoacoustics is a busy field too, and Caltech has used it to show detailed structure of the human breast, a big step towards bringing it into clinics for effective cancer screening.

10 June 2018 science

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